Flam Winery is located in the Judean Hills, a region about 20 years old, but already one of the most fascinating wine regions in the world!
My trip to Israel was not supposed to be a wine trip, but since I was there I could not miss the chance to check their wines. And are there any wines in Israel? Well … if we think that Jesus was born in this part of the world and that in the Last Supper there was lots of wine, we can already imagine how ancient the viticulture is around here! (What makes me wonder, what wine would they be drinking on that supper? …. hmmm …. 😉 )
I started my trip in Tel Aviv and then went on to Jerusalem. I would highly recommend you to take a food tour and explore several street markets in both cities because the food here is really good! A great mix of flavors from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and many others.
Half way between the cities, and only a few kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, I stopped by the Judean Hills wine region.
Surrounded by a rugged and somewhat wild landscape, the wines here show elegance, personality and minerality from the limestone soil and the dense and humid mountain vegetation.
Upon arrival at FLAM Winery, I was warmly welcomed by Gilad Flam, one of the founding brothers of this project. This is a small producer in the region who, along with three other family projects, form the Judean Hills Quartet.
Gilad is the Sales & Marketing director at FLAM Winery and took 10 minutes from his busy life to tell me a bit about the history of the Judean Hills. The evolution of its wines and how the famous Rothschild family (yes, the same Rothschild owners of several Châteaux in Bordeaux) played a key role in the development of Israel as a world wine production. Since the 18th century that three generations of this influential Jewish family invested in the country’s agriculture, namely in the vineyard, similar to what they were already doing in France.
Tamar, the wine tourism manager, was the one who hostes us the rest of the morning. Always very kind and fun, instead of taking us on a classic visit to the estate and cellar, Tamar settled us comfortably in the courtyard outside.
Full of flowers and Victorian gardens, the veranda overlooked the vineyards where the Flams planted the classic French grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
And for three hours my friend Filipa, Tamar and I sat down to taste wines, cheeses, and talk about Portuguese and Israeli gastronomy and culture. A delight!
Tamar made the test very relaxed and simple. At our pace we tasted the 3 different cheeses with the FLAM Blanc, FLAM Rosé and FLAM Classic (red).
FLAM Blanc – made from Sauvignon Blan and Chardonnay in the same percentage, this is an unoaked wine. The Chardonnay was harvested young which made it very vegetable and citric. Although it is a fresh wine, it is quite structured and persistent in the after taste.
FLAM Rosé – the combination of Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot make this wine very floral in the nose and soft in the palate like sweat peach, which once again lingers in the mouth with elegance.
FLAM Classic – Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon together result in a full-bodied wine with black pepper aromas and also accentuated flavors of tobacco and spices. A wine that pairs perfectly with Israeli spicy foods.
Although not mandatory in Israel, FLAM Winery bet on kosher winemaking. For a wine to be kosher, this must be handled exclusively by a representative of the rabbi, ie a winemaker authorized to produce kosher wines. Here the the winemaker’s role is almost like a conductor giving instructions until the desired wine comes out!
At the end of the event another Flam came to our table unexpectedly, this time the father, Israel. Unlike many family projects, at FLAM the idea of starting to produce wine was from the Gilad and Golan brothers. His father, only after 35 years as an oenologist at Carmel Winery in Israel, joined the FLAM Winery team.
Israel Flam, like many Jews, have been all over the world. Born in Poland, he moved to Germany where he lived most of his life. He continued his studies at the renowned U.C. Davis California and worked in Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Now in the Middle East, Israel Flam joins his children to continue this incredible wine project that has given me a tremendous pleasure to know!